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CBDT sets up high-level committee to look at retrospective tax cases
September, 08th 2014

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has set up a high-level committee to scrutinise all fresh cases arising out of the retrospective amendments of 2012 in respect of indirect transfers.

The four-member committee will look into all such cases coming to the notice of the assessing officer and give its views before any action is initiated by the Income-Tax Department.

The members of the committee are Joint Secretary (FT&TR-I), Joint Secretary (TPL-1) and Commissioner of Income-tax. The Director (FT&TR-1) will be the secretary of the committee.

On receipt of reference from the assessing officer, the committee will examine the proposed action of the assessing officer and, after providing an opportunity to the assessee, take a decision on the proposed action. The committee will have to convey its decision in writing to the assessing officer with copy to the principal commissioner or the commissioner and the assessee.

The CBDT has, in its order issued on Thursday, said that the committee should try to decide the reference within 60 days of its receipt by the secretary of the committee.

The assessing officer would thereafter proceed in accordance with the directions of the committee.

The CBDT has stipulated that the committee will have to submit its report in respect of references decided by it in the relevant period.

Also, the CBDT has been empowered to intervene in the working/deliberations of the committee, as and when required.

The first report would have to be submitted in respect of period ending on December 31, 2014, and subsequent reports will have to be submitted on a half-yearly basis.

Functioning matters

Reacting to the CBDT move, SP Singh, Senior Director, Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, said the constitution of the committee to go into proposals for reopening old cases is a welcome step.

“A lot will depend on the actual functioning of the committee, given the legislative and regulatory frameworks,” he said.

Aseem Chawla, Partner, MPC Legal, a law firm, said that it needs to be seen whether the recommendations of the committee would be binding in nature.

Also, clarity is needed whether the committee would be governed by settled principles of natural justice in conducting its administrative function, he added.

“All in all, it is a welcome move considering that the initiative purports to bridge the trust deficit existing between the taxpayer and the tax department.”

Initial cases

Amit Maheshwari, Partner, Ashok Maheshwary & Associates, a firm of chartered accountants, said this development is positive and in line with the government’s resolve to provide certainty to foreign investors.

However, it has to be seen what view the committee forms in the initial few cases to see whether this development effectively puts a lid to fresh controversies generated through the draconian retrospective amendment of 2012, he said.

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